Friday, April 10, 2009

The Perfect 3-Act Omelet

as seen at ChefsLine, the Culinary Hotline

With the end of winter come the first of the new year’s sun-fortified flavors, and what better way to showcase them than with that deconstructed designer dish, the omelet? They’re easy, quick, and low-carb/low-fat. No need for a recipe here (although I included one below anyway), just a few tips to help get the best effect out of your eggs and spring ingredients with notes.

Act 1: Mis en place. Meaning, prep everything you will need for the omelet. Once the eggs go into the pan things move pretty fast so advance prep is key. Your tasks include: beat together eggs and milk or cream. Notes: Beat thoroughly for fluffier omelets. And, don’t add salt yet – it makes the eggs chewy. Chop vegetables into a small dice. Grate the cheese. Slice fish if you are using any. Assemble tools: two sauté pans (or one and a steamer), a sharp knife, a cutting board, and a heat-resistant rubber spatula.

Act 2: Steam or sauté your veggies. While steaming, also include your choice of fresh herbs, salt and fresh ground pepper. If you are incorporating fresh fish, let the other ingredients cook half way before introducing it to heat, since it will cook very fast. If you are using mushrooms (which I happen to love), go ahead and sauté them thoroughly to really bring out their distinct flavors. If you are using spinach, wait until the last second to add it in with your other vegetables. Leave avocados raw.

Act 3: Build an omelet. First, drop some extra virgin olive oil into a small sauté pan over medium heat, making sure it gets spread evenly across the whole pan. Ladle in some of the egg batter, depending on how large you want the omelet to be (less is more). Carefully tilt the pan into circles over the flame so that the eggs spread and cook evenly and slowly. Using a rubber spatula, you can poke the egg so that runny parts cook faster or to pull the egg from the sides of the pan. Gently lift slower cooking bits of egg to ensure it all cooks evenly. Your omelet is ready for the additional ingredients when the egg still appears liquid on the top of the omelet.

Sprinkle grated cheese over one half of the eggs, following with the still-warm spring vegetables, just enough to cover one half side of the omelet. Note: if you are using fish you may not want to use cheese. Using your spatula, carefully fold the empty half of the omelet over the over vegetable side. Heat through and plate it up! Garnish your dish with fresh herbs, tomatoes, pepper flakes, grated or crumbled cheese, cucumbers, melon, scallions or chives, sour cream, and/or hot sauce.

Other choice spring omelet ingredients include: most fresh herbs, mushrooms, artichokes, arugula, asparagus, avocados, bell peppers, broccoli, cabbage, cauliflower, chives, corn, eggplant, green onions, leeks, peas, zucchini, summer squash, spinach, mussels, oysters, cod, flounder, halibut, salmon, sole, and trout.

Chef Adam’s Salmon Omelet Recipe:

3 eggs
1 teaspoon chopped fresh tarragon
1/8 cup sour cream
2 tablespoons butter
8 ounces fresh salmon
1/4 cup chopped morel mushrooms
salt and pepper to taste

Thoroughly whisk the eggs, sour cream, tarragon and a little pepper (no salt yet).
Sprinkle the salmon fillets with salt and pepper. Heat a saute pan over high heat and add a little olive oil. When the oil starts to smoke a little, add the salmon and let sear for about two minutes on each side. Remove from heat and set aside.

Lower the heat to medium and add a little more oil and the morels, and cook for about 5 minutes, until the mushroom aroma becomes pronounced (other mushrooms ought to be more well-done to bring out their flavor, but morels are delicate and can burn fairly easily). The mushrooms and salmon can be done ahead, so that the omelet is much easier, quicker and more convenient to make for brunch.

Preheat a new saute pan over medium heat (a clean pan will prevent the eggs from sticking), add the butter, and spread it around with a spatula (I like to use a heat-resistant rubber spatula) for an even coating. Pour the egg mixture into the pan and, holding the pan over the flame, tilt the pan in circles to cook the eggs evenly. You can move the uncooked portions of egg around with the spatula to help them cook evenly. Add the salmon and mushrooms, positioning them over one half of the eggs. Carefully fold the other side over and turn the omelet out onto a plate. Garnish with sour cream and chives.

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